Rams quarterback edges teammate Marshall Faulk in balloting by nationwide panel.
By Barry Wilner ~ The Associated Press
Kurt Warner won his second MVP award in silence.
Plagued by damaged vocal chords, Warner was unable to talk about it Wednesday when he won The Associated Press NFL Most Valuable Player award, surpassing the likes of Dan Marino and John Elway in the process.
Instead, showing the resourcefulness that defines his performances as quarterback of the potent St. Louis Rams, Warner responded to the honor via email.
"It is always a tremendous honor to be mentioned with the likes of those great players," said Warner, who stormed onto the NFL scene out of Arena Football and NFL Europe in 1999, leading the Rams to their first Super Bowl title.
"But, it is still very early in my career and my hope is that I can be mentioned in the same sentence as these guys (and Marshall Faulk) when my career is finished."
Warner, 30, is just beginning what could be one of the greatest careers of any NFL passer. He already has equaled Joe Montana, Steve Young and John Unitas with his two MVP awards. Only Brett Favre, with three, has more.
And Warner, working in an offense perfectly suited to his skills, guided the Rams (14-2) to the NFL's best record this season. Although Warner threw an NFC-high 22 interceptions this year, he easily led everyone in yards passing (4,830, second most in league history), touchdown passes (36), yards per attempt (a stunning 8.85), completions (375), completion percentage (68.7) and overall rating (101.4).
In 1999, Warner hit on 325 of 499 passes for 4,353 yards, a 65.1 completion percentage, 8.72 yards an attempt, 41 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. His rating was 109.2.
Faulk won the 2000 award. Only once has a team won three successive MVP awards: Favre took it in 1995 and 1996 and shared it with Detroit's Barry Sanders in '97. The only other Ram voted MVP was Roman Gabriel in 1969.
"I think the MVPs we have won the past three years have been awards that reflect the accomplishments of our whole team," Warner said. "We see these awards as team awards, for we know that we benefit from all the great talent surrounding us.
"I really think that this year's award should have been split between Marshall and myself. "
It nearly was.
Warner edged Faulk 21 1/2 votes to 17 1/2 in balloting by a nationwide panel of 50 sports writers and broadcasters who cover pro football. Favre was third with five votes, followed by Pittsburgh's Kordell Stewart with four and Chicago's Brian Urlacher, the only defensive player to receive votes, with two.
"The great players step forward and that's certainly what he's done," Rams coach Mike Martz said. "It's hard to imagine a guy more deserving of the league MVP than Kurt. He's just having a tremendous year."
So is Faulk, who rushed for 1,382 yards and 12 touchdowns, led the team with 83 receptions -- tops among NFL running backs -- for 765 yards and nine more TDs. That put him second to Priest Holmes of Kansas City with 2,147 total yards from scrimmage.
Together, Warner and Faulk dominated.
"This season has been more rewarding than 1999," Warner said. "I think it is because we were the favorites coming in and the toughness of our schedule. To be able to accomplish what we have this season, on both sides of the ball, has been truly rewarding.
"I am much more comfortable in the offense this year, as I think are all the players. We are truly in a special place and special time that may never be equaled again. I am truly blessed to have been placed in the middle of such a tremendous situation."